It’s Chipmunk Season.

A few years ago Nashville finally got a bona fide public bus station. It’s not much, but it’s a building with a roof and spaces for vending machines and offices and benches all surrounding a large circular center where the buses come and go. Before that the “bus station” was really just a bunch of small shelters and benches on the sidewalk of a single block. If you wanted to buy a 7 or 30-day bus ticket or were looking for the lost-and-found there was a kiosk that was open for approximately seventeen minutes on alternate Tuesdays.

One winter night my wife and I were walking up the street to see a show at TPAC and there was a man standing in one of the shelters belting out “Beautiful Dreamer” in a lovely bass baritone so that night we really got two performances for the price of one, but that’s another story.

Homeless people would also sometimes sleep in the shelters and probably sleep in the bus station too. I’d be happier if they could get help, but I’m glad they’ve at least got someplace to go that’s out of the elements.

The Bournemouth Borough Council in the UK feels a little differently, though, so at the Bournemouth Coach Station they’ve been playing songs by The Chipmunks from midnight to 6AM as “part of a wider strategy to deter anti-social behaviour and rough sleeping”.

It’s a bit of a change from the bagpipe music they had been previously playing, but what if you like that kind of music? Okay, I know, no one really likes The Chipmunks, not even small children who only pretend to like them, but I can sleep through anything.

And there are ways to make them entertaining.

11 Comments

  1. Maria F.

    My sister who lives in Miami told me they did the same thing. I don’t think they played music but had a maneuver to move all the homeless away from their sleeping grounds. Next day they were all back.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It sounds like it was a very short-term and short-sighted solution. They can try a lot of different things but people still have to go somewhere.

      Reply
  2. educational mentorship

    I would think that being forced to listen to the Chipmunks for 6 straight hours would ENCOURAGE anti-social behaviour rather than deter it! I know it would make me want to do some damage to something. Then again, I got used to the hammering upstairs…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Oh yeah, even a few minutes of listening to the Chipmunks makes me want to destroy something. And while I assume they also think it will curtail illicit liaisons I just know some people find those squeaky voices a turn-on.

      Reply
  3. Sean

    Hate the Chipmunks. Love Patton Oswalt. You were right. There’s IS way to make the Chipmunks entertaining!

    Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    My son and I were discussing this song this weekend, Chris. We just listened to this video and cracked up, much like small woodland animals or demons, but I don’t have a tape of that to share with you. Many thanks for more Christmas cheer.

    Reply
  5. Diane Holcomb

    Eighteen minutes on alternate Tuesdays…love this.

    Hunting season, maybe, for the chipmunks.

    I migrated over from The Bloggess site. Enjoyed your post!

    Reply
  6. Gilly Maddison

    As if the homeless don’t have enough to contend with. There was a church I read about not long back where they had some sort of sprinkler system in the doorway to deter rough sleepers. That’s the spirit! We don’t want nasty homeless people near OUR church, whatever next? Compassion? Heaven’s no! I visit Brighton in the UK a lot and there seems to be more and more homeless people sleeping in doorways every time I go there. It may well be true that there are some people who cannot be helped and would have no idea how to look after themselves or a flat/house but surely at the very least, these unfortunate people should be provided with some kind of shelter, warmth and food – even if it’s in a tent! Oh no, actually, just play’em the Chipmunks – that’ll teach them to be horrible homeless people making our towns look messy. Compassion is SO last year.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I thought compassion went out with bell bottoms. And I believe I read about the same church, or it might something a lot of churches are doing rather than help the homeless. Many years ago I volunteered with a church group that would bring homeless people in during the coldest nights of the year and give them a meal, a shower, and a chance to wash their clothes. It was a great thing, but I got a real sense that while some were just down on their luck others needed real help.

      Reply
  7. Margot

    Wow. That’s awful! Full disclosure: I actually loved the Chipmunks when I was a small child. I had a “Chipmunks Sing the Beatles” album that I listened to over and over. My poor parents. But, yes, now it would drive me crazy. How about providing shelter for the homeless if they don’t want them in the bus stations? Our church does a weekly overnight for homeless men, and everyone has a big breakfast together in the morning. That’s great, but I believe that the government should be doing more to help. Let’s save the Chipmunks to use on captured terrorists.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s great that your church has a weekly program to help homeless men. I used to volunteer with a program called Room At The Inn that gave homeless men a place to sleep for the night and a couple of meals. The government really should be doing more to help–it would, according to what I’ve read, be cheaper to house the homeless than repeatedly rounding them up and pushing them to other places.
      In Nashville on many corners you’ll see people selling a newspaper called The Contributor which is written by homeless people and about the issues the homeless face. It gives them a voice and a job (they buy copies for 25 cents and sell them for $2). Many have been able to get into housing and better lives because of it. The only problem is it doesn’t help the chronically mentally ill.

      Reply

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